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Four local university hockey players earn first pro contracts

Austin Saint (right). Photo via RMC Paladins website. Jacob Paquette. Photo via Queen’s Gaels website. Austin Saint (right) and Jonathan Yantsis are moving into the National Hockey League (NHL) from the RMC Paladins and the Queen’s Gaels respectively.
As their respective seasons recently came to an end, some of the top players at Queen’s University and the Royal Military College of Kingston (RMC) have inked their first pro deals.
Since last weekend, four Kingston-based players signed contracts with teams in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL), a professional league that is essentially two levels below the NHL.
RMC’s leading scorer Austin Saint and Queen’s forward Jonathan Yantsis both signed with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, while defencemen Jakob Brahaney and Jacob Paquette signed deals with the Kansas City Mavericks and Trois-Rivières Lions respectively.
Jonathan Yantsis (left) and Jakob Brahaney, both of the Queen’s Gaels men’s hockey team, are moving up to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits and the Kansas City Mavericks, respectively. Photos via Queen’s Gaels website.
Paquette said it’s exciting to start a new chapter in his hockey career although it’s disappointing to have to leave his teammates at Queen’s, and he’ll always look back fondly on memories like the Carr-Harris cup and playing for the U-Sports All-Stars against Team Canada’s World Junior team.
Paquette’s time at Queen’s was his second stop in Kingston, after previously spending part of his OHL career with the Kingston Frontenacs. He said he’s come to look at Kingston as a second home and his connection with Queen’s head coach Brett Gibson helped sell him on the Gaels.
“I moved here when I was 16, played for three and a half years,” Paquette said.
“Then, when I went away and it was time to decide for a school, I really didn’t have many school in [mind]. Queen’s is always one I wanted to go… I just really love Kingston.”
Jakob Brahaney also spent time with the Frontenacs, with all five of his OHL seasons spent in Kingston.
Queen’s head coach Brett Gibson praised all three outgoing Gaels in releases from the team, and both the Gaels and the Paladins gave thanks and best wishes to their players signing deals.
Of the players signed, only Paquette has yet to debut for his new team, and former RMC Paladin Austin Saint is off to a hot start, having scored four points in five games.
The contracts signed with their ECHL clubs last for the remainder of the 2023-24 season.
Owen Fullerton is a Kingston-based reporter with the Local Journalism Initiative (LJI). The LJI is funded by the Government of Canada.

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